U.S. PHARMACEUTICALS IN CHINA: FIRMS MONITORING
U.S. PHARMACEUTICALS IN CHINA: FIRMS MONITORING the political climate in the Peoples Republic and hoping for winds favorable to trade in the wake of recent large scale unrest and continuing crackdowns against the popular democracy movement. In an informal survey of seven drug and biotech companies with business ventures in China, the consensus was that operations are continuing although not quite in a business-as-usual mode. Demand continues to slow at Warner-Lambert's new hard gelatin capsule manufacturing facility in Suzhou due to uncertainty in the marketplace among the Chinese companies supplied by the plant, a spokesperson indicated. The company's three non-Chinese employees have left the country. Suzhou is located about 45 miles northwest of Shanghai. "Business continues uninterrupted" at SmithKline's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Tianjin, about two hours from Beijing, according to a company official. However, SmithKline has "put on hold" plans for visitors to tour the plant. The facility, which employs approximately 200 Chinese nationals, produces several drugs, including Tagamet and Contac. SmithKline's Allergan contact lens business has two joint facilities through its International Hydron lens manufacturing unit. The recent situation in China has had "minimal effect on overall operations," which each have about 50 employees, 10 of whom are non-American foreigners, an Allergan spokesperson said. Johnson & Johnson has pulled its 17 non-Chinese employees out of the country, but business at its two joint venture plants "is pretty much status quo," the company said. J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutica operates one of the two plants, which will be fully operative later this year and will manufacture a wide range of prescription drugs, including antifungals, anthelmintics and anesthetics. An Upjohn spokesperson remarked that the business of supplying medical products "is not so politicized" as consumer goods joint venture arrangements. Upjohn has agreements with Chinese companies for the supply of medicinal herbs, but does not have any plants or people in the country. Searle, which has a March 1988 trust agreement to fund Chinese pharmaceutical development, also is waiting to see what happens. The biotech firm Cell Technology has "deferred indefinitely" plans to have one of the firm's head scientists go to China in August and is waiting to see whether the political situation will be "conducive to a meaningful relationship," a company spokesperson commented. The Boulder, Colorado-based biotech company signed an agreement in principle in April with the Chinese Medical Academy of Science for the joint development of biotechnology products.
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